One of the issues under constant debate regarding drug crimes involves sentences for relatively benign crimes. The issues revolve around whether first-time offenders, those in possession of small amounts, and crimes involving less serious drugs like marijuana should face lesser sentences than those convicted of more serious crimes.
Adding weight to this debate is the problem of over-crowded jail and prison systems. In the opinion of many, the lesser drug crimes and first-time charges should be treated more leniently to save costs and reduce pressure on an over-crowded prison system.
According to a recent article in News4Jax, the Florida legislature is proposing some new laws to minimize the cost and overcrowding of the state prison system. There are various versions of these bills. One involves reduced sentences for first-time, non-violent offenders, another focuses on minimizing sentences for less dangerous drugs like marijuana, and yet another proposal suggests giving judges greater leeway to reduce minimum mandatory sentences in certain situations.
Any of these proposals, if accepted, would certainly reduce the pressure on the Florida prison system to focus on more serious crimes. According to Florida Tax Watch President Dominic Calabro, giving judges greater discretion in this regard is a great way to save tax payers money. Currently, the Florida prison system houses more than 100,000 people and costs the state $2.4 billion.
Although many politicians want to be tough on crime, saving tax-payer dollars to focus on more serious crimes is a better approach, and there are many benefits to giving judges greater discretion to reduce minimum sentencing for many less serious drug crime charges.